Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hope and Redemption - The Lena Baker Story: Death Penalty


A. Discuss the following questions in small groups:

1. Do you agree with capital punishment - death penalty? If so, under which circumstances?

2. What do countries do about people wrongly executed? What do you believe should be done?

3. Is capital punishment a deterrent to curb violent crime?

4. What do you think about the saying "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth"?

5. Should death penalty be applied to mentally ill criminals, especially those who cannot be treated and recovered to live in society?

6. What do you think goes on in the mind of the person who will be executed? What about the executioner's?

7. What is the most humane way to put someone to death?

8. What is the best alternative to execution?

9. Should the general public be allowed to attend the execution? Why (not)?

10. In Britain, you may be sentenced with a death penalty if you kill the Queen, but not if you kill your neighbor. What's your opinion about it? How fair is it?

11. What's your theory for why 98% of the people executed in the USA are male?

B. Watch the movie segment about what happened to Lena Baker. How fair was her trial. How should it be conducted in order for it to be fair?

Read some of the characteristics of her trial and decide if her sentence was fair.

1. Judge William Worrill kept a pair of pistols on his judicial view bench in plain view.

2. The jury consisted of all white male who convicted her in an one afternoon trial.

3. She killed her white male employee after several years of abuse.

C. Watch the segment and discuss the questions that follow:

1. Describe the scene.

2. Did you change your opinion about capital punishment?

3. She was not guilty of her crime. But what if she had actually killed him with the intention of murdering him. Would you think that the punishment would be fair in this case? Explain it.

4. Why are 78% of the executed convicts in America African American descents?

5. Why do 89% of the executed convicts in America come from very low social classes? Is there a logical explanation for this data?



  1. Hi Claudio. First of all, I'd like to thank you for the excellent material you provide here. It is of great help! I intend to use this particular activity to foster communication with my advanced students, but I'd like to know about your students' reaction to that segment, because it's kind shocking. Thanks again.

  2. Yes, it is a sensitive video. I used this with adults and we had been discussing the issue for a while. They reacted well to the segment. However, if you think your audience will not feel comfortable, please don't show it. You are the one who knows the students.